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What's New to See and DO

Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)During the warm fall weather, plan your hike according to what you hope to see: birds and mammals in the early morning or near sunset; reptiles, insects and butterflies in the heat of day.

NOTE: Late August - early September is when the poison oak leaves turn beautiful shades of crimson and gold. Remember the adage: "leaves of three; let it be"! And, beware: the poisonous sap (urushiol) is equally present in the stems, leaves, roots and fruit of the plant.

The Birds, the Bees and the Flowers

Things to look for while hiking in Topanga State Park during September:
A few of the yellow sticky monkeyflowers and canyon sunflowers are still in bloom, but more than likely, you will spot the slender sunflower in bloom.   The laurel sumac are past full bloom as are many of the indian milkweed bushes.   California fuchsia is beginning to come into bloom as is chalk-leaved dudlea and the buckwheats.   While hiking, you may catch a whiff of maple sugar.   It is the very fragrant Pearly Everlasting, a member of the aster family.   Mugwort is still in bloom near the pond. 

Sticky Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

Pacific Slope flycatchers and all of the swifts and swallows are frequent visitors to the shrinking pond and nearby oaks where food is most abundant.  Look for Ruby Crowned Kinglets to start arriving in September along with the "butterbutts" (Yellow Rumped Warblers) as they return from the mountains.   Beautiful Townsend's Warblers should also be back in our area by then.   You may be fortunate to spot our two most spectacular birds: the Western Tanager and the Lazuli Bunting as they begin southbound migrations.   In the denser wooded areas, listen for the up-slurred call of the Swainson's Thrush as it, too, migrates south through our park. 

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii)

Docent and lepidopterist Margaret Huffman provides these suggestions: Early fall is a big time for butterflies and a great chance to sharpen your identification skills. Look for large 3" Anise- and Pale- Swallowtails flying high in trees or taking nectar from tall flowers; (white) Cabbage Butterfly and Checkered Whites fly over grasses and lower plants, rarely lighting; Sara Orangetip nectars on Common Vervain; tiny Hedgerow Hairstreak is around ceanothus in higher chaparral areas.

Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon)

California Buckwheat (now in bloom) is a favorite of the 1" and under group: Gray-and Mountain Mahogany- Hairstreaks, the tiny Acmon- and Marine- Blues (also on the Deerweed), Square- spotted Blue and the large 1.75" Variable Checkerspot. The 3" large black butterfly with orange tips fluttering around the oaks is the California Sister, and the dramatic 3.75" black and orange butterfly near milkweed is the Monarch. Look for the 3" dark brown and creamy edged Mourning Cloak around willows.

More to see and do

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